Introduction Global Student Experience, Association des Etats Generaux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum (AEGEE), American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS), European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (ERASMUS) and Education Abroad Program (EAP). These are the most well-known study abroad programmes not just in Europe but in the whole world. These programmes provide opportunity for students, teachers and personnel to learn and work in a study abroad context.
According to the programmes’ official websites, the participation increases the students’ mobility, develop their cultural awareness and give a useful and lifelong experience. The European Union expanded the borders in Europe, so nowadays it is much easier to spend a few months or even a year in a foreign university. The most popular study abroad programme in Hungary is ERASMUS. Between 1998 and 2008 more than 25,000 undergraduates had been studied in a foreign university from the 63 Hungarian universities.
Although the study-abroad programme has bigger popularity in the celebrated institutions, almost every university and college have sent and received students. According to the home page of Tempus Public Foundation, in 2009 almost four hundred students participated in the programme in twenty-five European countries from the University of Pecs (UP). Besides, UP has student mobility contracts with universities from the United States of America and Japan too. Motivation is a significant point in learning issues especially in language learning.
Motivation can be categorized in several ways. But the concept of motivation can be divided into two parts: the first one is language learning motivation; the second one is motivation to study abroad. Language learning motivation ‘involves the attitudes and affective states that influence the degree of effort that learners make to learn an L2’ (Ellis, 1997, p. 75). Study abroad motivation consists of three components, according to Elizabeth Murphy-Lejeune (2002). We can study the foreign language learners’ motivations in these two ways too.
Therefore, motivation is a major issue in language learning which can be effectively studied among learners who spend a semester or one academic year in a foreign university. The study abroad context can influence the students’ learning methods, cultural views and behaviours. Why do students learn foreign languages? How will they use their second language knowledge? Why do they decide to join the ERASMUS programme? What do they think about and are they satisfied with the programme?
My thesis focuses on these questions. I have made an overview about ERASMUS students’ experiences and expectations about the time they have spent in Pecs. I interviewed six foreign students from different countries and I asked the same questions. I have analyzed and compared the answers to make a comprehensive study about the ERASMUS programme’s goals and results. The first chapter overviews the literature on language learning motivation and study abroad programmes, but mostly the ERASMUS programme.
The concept of motivation and the knowledge of its varieties are very important to understand and examine properly the students’ aims while they are in a study abroad context. In the second chapter I introduce the context of the interviews and then I explain the interview questions which the basic data of my thesis are. In the data analysis section I elaborate the answers of the participants which supply the results of my research. The results give an overview about the aims and goals of the ERASMUS programme and also focus on the interviewees’ achievements, ideas, and reflections.
The conclusion contains the short summary of the findings and it also leaves open the door for further examinations in the future. Chapter 1: The Context of Motivation and Study-Abroad Programmes 1. 1 Motivation of Students Why do students start to learn a second or a third language? Why do they move to a foreign university to improve their language skills? Motivation is not the proper answer to these questions but gives an initial point from where further analyses can be accomplished. In my opinion successive learning and concrete aims cannot be achieved without strong motivational force.
This is especially true in second language learning and in the field of studying abroad. These two concepts are not strongly connected but both are indispensable while examining second language learners in a study abroad context. 1. 1. 1. Language Learning Motivation Students who decide to learn at a foreign university for a semester or an academic year have two types of motivations: language learning motivation and study-abroad motivation. The first one appears earlier in the learning process because many students start learn languages mostly in their childhood.
Coleman (1996) stated that there are ten main reasons why students start to learn a foreign language: (a) for their future career, (b) because they like the language, (c) to travel in different countries, (d) to have a better understanding of the way of life in the country or countries where it is spoken, (e) because they would like to live in the country where it is spoken, (f) because they are good at it, (g) because it is an international language, (h) to become a better-educated person, (i) to meet a greater variety of people in their life, and (j) to get to know/make friends among the people who speak it.
These motivations are emerging mostly in high school, when the students have already developed a higher intellectuality and self-reliance. These motivations can be narrowed down basically into four types of language learning motivation. According to Ellis (1997), these are the instrumental, integrative, resultative, and intrinsic motivation. Instrumental motivation is the most common one. Most students want to achieve a higher level of language proficiency for some functional reason, e. g. to get a language certificate, a better job, or a place at a university.
They think the high language proficiency can open up ‘educational and economic opportunities for them’ (Ellis, 1997). Integrative motivation is more complex. Integration means the incorporation of individuals as equals in societies. Some learners ‘learn a particular L2 because they are interested in the people and culture represented by the target language group’ (Ellis, 1997, p. 75). This is usually occurs when somebody decide to migrate to a foreign country but before this, he or she wants to become acquainted with the culture and attitudes of the target language’s group.
This type of motivation also appears in bilingual and multilingual communities. For example many English speaking Canadians start to learn French. Ellis (1997) has a very good definition on resultative motivation: … motivation is the cause of L2 achievement. However, it is also possible that motivation is the result of learning. That is, learners who experience success in learning may become more, or in some contexts, less motivated to learn. (p. 75) Using the Canadian example, ‘the success of learning French may intensify English-speaking learners’ liking for French culture’ (Ellis, 1997). Intrinsic motivation is a highly interesting type.
The learners do not have any general reasons for learning a second language. Usually they do not have positive or negative feelings towards the foreign language or the natives of that particular language. It does not mean that they are unmotivated. They are rather curious about the language and the tasks they have made and they are interested in the learning activities too. Dornyei, Csizer and Nemeth (2006) have argued that English language became a lingua franca in the world and ‘there is a growing tendency worldwide for people to develop a bicultural identity’ (Dornyei, Csizer, & Nemeth, 2006).
Therefore, students start to learn English to be able to integrate not just in their own culture, but in the whole world too. This statement fits for other languages as well, because with a second language students are also getting familiarize the culture of the foreign language group. With second language acquisition usually appears the desire among students to meet with the native speakers of the second language and to become an international individual. 1. 1. 2. Study-Abroad Motivation
The voyage itself, the discovery of something new, to meet with new people from a different culture were always a strong motivational force for academics, explorers, and great thinkers but this is especially true for the majority of the students. According to Chirkov, Safdar, J. de Guzman, and Playford (2008) the motivation of international college students who go to a foreign country for studying is an important factor in predicting their adjustment. This statement means that ERASMUS students have an opportunity to become more mobile, accommodating and recipient.
Though study-abroad motivation is highly complex, it has almost identical complements and characteristics among all undergraduates. Living in an exotic city, meeting people from different countries, and pursuing an interesting course of study are the common ones but as Elizabeth Murphy-Lejeune (2002) stated there are three major motivation types: … language, work (studying and professional experience together) and personal enrichment, often the wish for something other than routine, whether meeting new people or experiencing something new.
The language-learning motive subsumes the cultural discovery motive related to knowledge of the host country. The academic or professional motive includes themes such as the desire to study elsewhere, to gain professional training or to discover new studying methods. The personal motive covers a large area related to desire for travel, for personal adventure, for new experiences or for self-development. (p. 80) Although these three motives are different, they are highly connected. The knowledge of one or even more foreign languages is important in the context of employment.
Students’ aims are often the desire for better life conditions which, they think, is accessible by obtaining an existential profession. The desire to live in an exotic country, study new things is not just a great adventure for the undergraduates but gives priceless experience too. New and various intentions make their personality more complex, open-minded, and rich which will be so profitable in their future life. Language learning introduces new cultures, world views, and maybe the most important, different people for them.
Motivation is the driving engine which directs students to different ways in their lives. It is highly possible that some find another motivating power while they are already gone to a foreign university. The various motives also fluctuate and evolve with time. The longer the stay, the more motives emerged. For example, a foreign undergraduate motivated by a specific field of interest at the beginning of the stay, but after a while he or she became interested in the host country and finally in the native people too. This developmental order can be recognized in other motivational connections as ell. Albeit motivation had been researched from several aspects and by many experts, like Safdar (2008), Playford (2008), Ellis (1997) or Dornyei (2006), it is still an emerging field which can be studied from several points of view. 1. 2 The ERASMUS Programme The word ERASMUS is an acronym, standing for European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. The acronym coincides with the name of Erasmus of Rotterdam, a Dutch scholar who lived and worked across Europe at the beginning of the sixteenth century.
The founders of the programme pointed out that this is a perfect match because of the scholar’s migrating life, which corresponds with the students’ everydays, who spend a semester or an academic year in a study-abroad context (ERASMUS Programme, 2010). The programme has several specific objectives. These are: to improve the students’ and teaching staff’s mobility, to increase and improve the cooperation between higher education institutions, and to support new learning and teaching techniques and innovations.
As the European Commission’s decision stated, the general aim of the programme is to create a European Higher Education Area and foster innovation throughout Europe (The ERASMUS Programme, 2009). The ERASMUS programme was adopted in 1987 but first the programme only supported pilot student exchanges for six years. At that time some European Union member states did not appreciated the programme (such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom) but a compromise was worked out so the final decision was born in June 1987.
In the first academic year more than 3,000 students had participated in the programme under the framework of SOCRATES programme, which was replaced by the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013 in 2007. Nowadays more than 150,000 students participated in the programme, per an academic year. ERASMUS MUNDUS affinities with ERASMUS and it connect non-European universities with European ones, just like Japan or Turkey. According to the article, ERASMUS Programme (2010), ‘there are currently 2,199 higher education institutions participating in ERASMUS across the 31 countries involved in the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013 and over 1. million students have already taken part. ’ Nevertheless, the programme supports the mobility and further training of teachers and personnel; more than 20,000 people have already joined the programme. The ERASMUS programme is very popular in Hungary too. From 1998 more than 25,000 students had travelled to a foreign university until 2008. The numbers show a growing tendency which means that the programme is more and more fashionable and widely celebrated in every year.
In Hungary there are 63 institutions that have signed the contract with the European Commission, from the biggest and well-known universities across the colleges to the smaller artistic institutions. According to the survey of Tempus Public Foundation, the University of Pecs is at the second place among the universities from which students had travelled abroad. In the last ten years almost 3,000 undergraduates spent one or two semesters at foreign institutions. Only Eotvos Lorand University dispatched more. The University of Pecs ensures around eight hundred positions to travel abroad on the faculties, almost in every academic specialization.
The Faculty of Music and Visual Arts, the Faculty of Adult Education and Human Resources Development, the Faculty of Business and Economics, and the Medical School have the least free positions (25, 29, 15, 36), the Faculty of Sciences has almost fifty places while the Pollack Mihaly Faculty of Engineering, the Illyes Gyula Faculty of Education, and the Faculty of Law send almost one hundred students to a foreign university. The Faculty of Humanities is the leading institution among the UP’s ten faculties, as it allotted more than 350 students across Europe in the last two semesters.
It is due to the many academic specialization and the good and well-designed advertising and vulgarization among the undergraduates. The faculty also receives a huge number of foreign students from many countries in the European Union. With the help of Monika Szalai, ERASMUS coordinator, I had chosen six foreign undergraduates whom which I made my interviews. 1. 3 Summary The increasing popularity of ERAMSUS Programme among undergraduates and the growing number of participating universities show that studying abroad is a highly emerging area in higher education all across Europe.
The teaching staff’s mobility, the numerous foundations and financial aids provide modern and prominent possibilities for those who want to spend a semester or an academic year in a foreign university. ERAMSUS is the biggest student mobility organization in Europe. It gives the opportunity to maintain the students’ cultural, educational and personal desires, it enriches their knowledge and experiments and provides better foresight for their future. The University of Pecs is a leader institution in Hungary and Central-Europe as a student receiver and sender institute.
The well-organized programmes, the prepared teachers and ERASMUS coordinators make the UP a popular and frequently visited university. UP, one of the oldest universities in Europe, steps up the standard of education to the level of famous West-European institutions which means favourable atmosphere for students who wants to expand their scope. Thus, these circumstances, not just in Pecs of course, can be one of the undergraduates’ main motives. Besides, there are several other reasons too, why undergraduates decide to go to a foreign university.
Personal, professional, and self-developmental motives are also common. According to Murphy-Lejeune (2002) to live foreignness and to speak foreignness or live differently than the daily routine are strong motivational forces too. As for students’ future, multinational companies and bigger national firms frequently give preference for those who has an international experience and higher cultural awareness. Many learners are already very self-conscious at the age of 19-22, so they built their future life as early as they can.
Rich experiments, cultural knowledge and multilingualism come to be common and also indispensable for these young undergraduates. Chapter 2: The Research Study with Foreign Students 2. 1 The Context of the Interviews Why do students in the European Union decide to join an international programme to study abroad? The investigation of this question is a quite newfangled but emerging phenomenon in applied linguistics. The undergraduates’ reasons and motives give the basic data in this field which can be collected in several ways.
The most common ones are questionnaire surveys, experimental studies, case studies, diary studies, and interviews (Dornyei, 2007). I chose structured interviews for my qualitative research. Interviews give the basic data to my thesis so the way how I scheduled it, was a crucial point. My fundamental idea was that if I wanted to gather comprehensible and advantageous data, I will need to provide peaceful surroundings without any oppressing and disturbing effects. I did not want the interviewees to feel embarrassed or nervous because in my opinion it leaves its mark on the results.
Thus, I decided to hold the interviews as a friendly, simple chat. Therefore, I managed the interviews in coffee bars beside a cup of tea or a beverage. As I had felt, the interviewees had been chilled out and relaxed so they did not feel the official atmosphere of the interview. In these structured one-to-one interviews I used an elaborated, pre-prepared interview schedule, containing a list of questions. Dornyei (2007) claimed that such controlled interviews ensure that the interviewee focuses on the target topic area which makes the answers comparable across different respondents.
The other side of the coin is, however, that in a structured interview there is little opportunity for variation or spontaneity and there is also very little flexibility in the way questions are asked. The interviewees had never met with each other before. That is important, because I did not want them to interchange my questions and discuss the answers. In each occasion there were only one student and me. I always recorded the talk with a voice recorder with the acquiescence of the foreign undergraduates. The time of the interviews varies between six and fifteen inutes, depends on the students’ nationality and language proficiency. As Dornyei (2007) argues, a complete interview involves a lot of carefully designed steps, such as the planning of ethical issues and the preparing of the interview guide. The function of the interview guide is to help the interviewer not to omit anything, to keep the order of the questions, or to give templates for the opening statements. Notes on the guide can also help to be careful with language and ethical issues, such as grammar and pronunciation, and considering the interviewee’s age, race and gender.
Mutual respect is also very important to keep the interview in the desired channel. The avoidance of stereotypical statements towards different nations and religions is important too. For that reason I always tried to talk and behave carefully during the interviews and be as polite as possible to avoid nuisances with the students. 2. 2 Participants and Interview Questions 2. 2. 1 Participants The ERASMUS mentors of the faculty organize a programme, called country presentations, every Thursday evening every semester. I visited such an evening twice to find volunteer foreign students.
With the help of Szalai Monika, who is the ERASMUS coordinator of the faculty, I found six undergraduates, three males and three females, from six different countries. They are at the age between twenty-one and twenty-four. These students study in the Faculty of Humanities, all of them take their studies seriously, so they have appropriate thoughts and they are trustworthy in the point of view of my data collection. During the interviews and in the transcripts of the recorded conversations I used the interviewees’ real names with their permission.
My first interviewee was Spencer, who comes from the United States of America. He lives in Saranac Lake, New York. He learns communication and psychology in the University of Pecs. Beside his major lectures he also has Hungarian and Italian courses. Wiebke lives in Frankfurt, Germany and she is an MA student. She takes political and cultural courses and she works in the framework of Pecs2010 European Capital of Culture. She had been in Australia for one year, so she is a perfect English speaker and her boyfriend is Hungarian, so she has high Hungarian language proficiency too.
Yoshi is an undergraduate in Akita International University, Japan. In the University of Pecs he takes courses about the history of colonies and the USA, but he also has media lectures in English. My fourth interviewee was Kim from Daegu, South-Korea. She is an English major, and learns English Literature at the English Department. Huseyin comes from Turkey. He is a very agile and diligent person. In Pecs he studies Russian and Hungarian language and literature, international economics and politics, and American culture.
He is highly motivated and self-supporting which help him to be a conscious and far-seeing student. The last but not least interviewee was Magdalena from Poznan, Poland. She is a Hungarian major; therefore Hungarian is her second language. She also speaks English as well. The interviews were held in English because of the interviewees’ second language is English, except the case of Wiebke and Magdalena, who asked me to speak in Hungarian because it was easier for them and they prefer that language. The transcripts of the six interviews can be found one by one at the end of my thesis, under Appendix C. . 2. 2 Interview Questions The interview questions were asked in a strict order to each student, to make the analysis easier and more comprehensible. The ordering is based on three question types: at the beginning there are a few introductory questions which supply a little warming up and give some basic information about the undergraduates. The first few questions are very important because they set up the tone and the mood of the interview and create an initial rapport. The research questions give the main body of my thesis with specific questions. These are more focused and practical ones.
These are also pointing out the students’ feelings, impressions and opinions. According to Patton (2002) there are six types of content questions focusing on: (a) experiences and behaviours, (b) opinions and values, (c) feelings, (d) knowledge, (e) sensory information, and (f) background or demographic information. With my questions I aimed to explore the undergraduates’ motivations, their specific aims and future plans. The ending questions are focusing on the students’ thoughts about Pecs and these are the closing ones too. Here the undergraduates had the permission to add further information by their own.
The questions were built up in connection with each other. They addressed areas such as ERASMUS, the students’ aims, and their future benefits. I have made the question planning in accordance with Szentpali Ujlaki’s Study-Abroad Motivation – Preliminary Results of a Pilot Project (2007). That paper deals with outgoing Hungarian ERASMUS students’ motivation at Kaposvar University, thus it is highly interdependent with my research. After the interviews I transformed the recordings into textual form. I also had to translate two interviews from Hungarian into English.
The transcribing process was very slow and time-consuming but essential for the qualitative data collection. Although it is impossible to give back the feeling and the non-verbal aspects of the interviews, such as body-language, pauses, or louder speaking and emphasized words, I tried to make the transcripts as similar and appropriate as possible, so I have kept the accuracy problems and other language issues as in the oral version. 2. 3 Data Analysis The process of the data analysis is based on the examination and comparison of the students’ answers.
I also used a questionnaire which was made by the ERASMUS team and filled by foreign students. Although it is relevant to my research, it only has complementary results. The analysis followed the order of the research questions; I compared and analysed the undergraduates’ answers one by one. I explained the findings with a summary which will be the main body of the final conclusion. Why did you decide to join the Erasmus programme? This question is the most significant one according to students’ motivations. The answers vary in a wide range, as the students’ different personality, though there are some similarities too.
Spencer stated that he ‘wanted to really know more part of Europe, meet with international students, study with international students and learn new things, try new things’ and Kim said that she ‘wanted to meet various people with various cultures’. To expand their cultural awareness and discover other countries are usually giving a strong motivational force to ERASMUS students, but I got some different answers too, like ‘because I get money’ (Wiebke) or ‘because I wanted to study the Hungarian language in Hungary’ (Magdalena), so financial and learning issues are also very important.
According to the questionnaire of the ERASMUS team, studying abroad gives numerous cultural programmes, trips across the host country and specific courses which are not available in their universities. Did you make any preparation for your study-abroad period? ‘Well not much. I mean I knew that I want to come here and discover on my own’ (Spencer). ‘I bought some books about Hungary, but I didn’t really check it, but cooking or some pictures’ (Yoshi). ‘Yes. I had a Hungarian class in Kaposvar and we not just studied Hungarian language but also Hungarian stories, culture and music or something like that’ (Huseyin). Yes, it think it helps a lot if there is someone in the family whom with easier understand the cultural and historical issues’ (Wiebke). ‘Because of I’m a Hungarian major I had to learn Hungarian history and literature so I knew at home already and this is not my first stay in Hungary’ (Magdalena). I believe, without some basic knowledge about the host country it is quite impossible to integrate in a different culture than our own. For a future ERASMUS student it is highly necessary to collect information about the host country by reading and learning. As Wiebke mentioned, a supporting family can help with a lot of information too.
With some background knowledge it is easier to establish relationships, understand the native’s behaviours and manage ourselves in everyday life. Why do you learn a foreign language? The answers to this question varied among the students, mostly due to their cultural backgrounds. The learning policies of their countries define the language proficiency level, which should be attained by the undergraduates to get their degree. Therefore they need different learning strategies and aims to reach the required language proficiency level. ‘You know in Korea, English is a blooming language, popular very much’ (Kim).
Certainly, it is possible to find students who are intrinsically or integratively motivated. I found these types of motives in the case of Yoshi and Wiebke. ‘I was interested in English at the Junior High School. And then I went to High School which was focusing on English, so there are more courses in English compare to other high school’ (Yoshi). ‘I have studied a lot English, we started when I was seven and I have been in the US and Australia too. I have started learn Hungarian four years ago, because I met with a Hungarian boy’ (Wiebke). With second or third language they become as mobile as never in the world.
Wide vistas open up for them, so they can exploit a lot of opportunities, for instance different professions, travels, and further studying. Do you have any special aim or aims you would like to attain in this semester? Although students’ primary motive is language learning, they have a number of more specific aims which they would like to accomplish in the semester. The driven force to attain these goals is mainly the instrumental motivation. The undergraduates’ main aim is to pass their exams at home by the knowledge they have acquired here or to get a language proficiency exam.
They also think that it will be easier to look for a job, even in Hungary, because they are bilingual or multilingual. ‘First of all I will search for a job’, claimed Yoshi, who has very good opportunities in business areas, as Huseyin too who added that ‘last year in Turkey there were a lot of Russian tourists and if I want to earn money I have to learn Russian and I also speak English and a little bit of Hungary’. Moreover, Wiebke ‘will have a language certificate exam’ and she ‘just started work in the Cultural Capital of Europe programme as a cultural manager’.
Some of the interviewees, and in general many other ERASMUS students, will finish their studies in Pecs. The better technological, personnel and researching opportunities induce them to do their final research paper. This will happen with Yoshi and Magdalena, who said that ‘in the spring semester I will make some seminar courses or write a short thesis’ (Yoshi), and ‘I have to write my thesis. That’s why I came here, because in our libraries at home there just a few Hungarian books. This was the main reason’ (Magdalena). For some students the study-abroad period is just a little digression in their studies.
They are making new friends, discovering something unusual and learning languages. All these will be important and expedient in their future. This happens with Spencer who said that ‘I want to see more of Hungary, I want to learn more the language, and I want to try everything, so I want to stay for the second semester’. Kim’s reasons are so similar: ‘Just studying the language and making friends’. What do you think? Will this experience benefit you in the future? According to the home pages of several enterprises and employment agencies (e. g. www. euwork. u, Paks Nuclear Power Plant) many employers give preference to job hunters who have foreign experiences. The higher language proficiency, the cultural sensitivity, and the basis for comparison enable former ERASMUS students to become more successful, effective, and acknowledged in their future life. Most of the ERASMUS students know the advantages of the programme and they are also trying to exploit them efficiently as soon as possible. The interviewees argued as one that the study-abroad period will be very useful and crucial in their future life and some of them have already utilized it.
This happens with Wiebke who declared that she is working as a cultural manager in the European Capital of Culture Pecs2010. She also stated that ‘this is a big step. Because if I didn’t come here I would never learn Hungarian because only the courses cannot help’ and with her experiences she will be able to get jobs not just in Germany or Hungary but in many other countries in the European Union. Spencer looks this question absolutely from the point of view of his future life: ‘the experiences with employers, you know, like businesses in the US when they say “oh yeah you spent a year in this country”’.
Yoshi argued that the stay is rather beneficial for him because his culture is very different from the European ones, thus it is a great experience for him. ‘It’s very interesting for me to meet people from foreign countries and to know about there culture and lifestyle, so I can talk about it’ (Yoshi). Beside this, some undergraduates mentioned practical reasons too. Their speaking skills are developing faster; now they are able to introduce different cultures to their relatives and friends. Kim stated that ‘live and study in a foreign country is very good.
And maybe at my hometown at the university I will be a mentor for Hungarian students’. Huseyin thinks that he will tell a lot of things to his parents and friends about the different cultures and different people whom he met in Hungary. The ERAMSUS programme promotes the mobility of postgraduate students too, providing opportunities for apprentice trainings to continue their studies and researches. Many students tend to exploit this possibility too, with which they substantiate their carrier even in a foreign country. How do you want to exploit your experiences? ‘I will be done something much better than at home.
There are some things that I like do, there are habits and different things that I want to take back and hold on. My profession probably will be to come back Europe and travel to different cities or something like this’ (Spencer). ‘It’s very interesting for me to meet people from foreign countries and to know about there culture and lifestyle, so I can talk about it… I would like to find jobs in Japan but I’m not really decided it yet. But I’m not very good in communication so I’m not interested in that sector, that’s sure. I’m interested more in finances, governmental organizations, etc. (Yoshi). ‘When I came here and couldn’t speak in Russian, but now I think I can! I can introduce myself, I can make friends… I will tell a lot of things to my parents and friends about the different cultures and different people’ (Huseyin). ‘Yes, of course, of course! Because live and study in a foreign country is very good. Studying in Hungary will help me a lot to find a job at home’ (Kim). ‘I have not decided yet where to work because I don’t want to be here in my whole life. Maybe in Germany or somewhere in the world but not just in Hungary. I have to learn languages’ (Wiebke). Well I learn the language all the time, use it everyday. And it is a good point in my CV that I have learnt in Hungary or somewhere else’ (Magdalena). The answers are very similar. I think that here is the point where generalization is allowable due to the many resembling answers. The ERASMUS students’ almost strongest motivation, which is connected to their adult life, is that they want to obtain an accepted, well-paid, and popular profession. This is easily legible from their answers because the interviewees mentioned their hopes and plans about their future jobs in complete agreement.
They feel that the study-abroad period is a crucial point in their prospective life. To mention or indicate their foreign experiences in their CVs is a good starting point in job interviews. Are you satisfied with the study-abroad programme? ‘Yes, the programmes and the opportunities for us are so fantastic’ (Spencer). ‘I study about Central-European regions and some other European regions trough the courses and also country presentations. That was a good point’ (Yoshi). ‘Yes. Because everybody really helpful for me. There are a lot of Russian and Polish people here who speak Russian very well, and they practiced with me a lot.
I also made a lot of friends here and I learn a lot of things here’ (Huseyin). ‘Everything is okay, well-organized. In September everyone got a mentor who helps a lot, shows the city and everything. So there are not problems, all good and easy’ (Wiebke). ‘Yes, yes. There are a lot of useful courses for me which I took and the university is interesting. There are also a lot of entertaining programmes too. I meet new people from all around the world, not just Hungarians, so I practice English as well’ (Magdalena). The organizers of the ERASMUS programme do their best to make the foreign students’ life as easy and problem-free as possible.
Everyone can rely on a mentor who helps him or her from the beginning of the stay until the end. Their main duties are to guide the foreigners through Pecs and the university. The mentors familiarize them with the surface of ETR, introduce the dormitories and help them in everyday life, such as shopping, courses, parties, cultural events, etc. If a foreign undergraduate has a problem, he or she can turn to the mentor with confidence. In accordance with the number of candidates, sometimes two or three mentors help each foreign student. The interviewees’ answers show that they are really satisfied with the organizers’ efforts.
The various cultural programmes, trips, and presentations provide a deep insight into the culture of Hungary and other countries with which the foreign undergraduates get a lifelong experience. Although the feedback in general was mostly positive, naturally there were some negative remarks. These are usually representing individual needs, such as accomodational problems, integrational difficulties or problems with the courses. Besides, Spencer stated that ‘we are living together in the same dormitory; so many Erasmus students said ‘I don’t know any Hungarians’ and this is not good.
The Erasmus students are not so active to meet with Hungarian people so we live in a bubble. We are living like a little European bubble in the middle of Hungary. ’ Yoshi and Kim had some difficulties and problems with their courses and lectures. Yoshi said that there were a lot of great goals of the study-abroad programme ‘but like a kind of disappoint, not disappointed but thing was [that he] didn’t choose some courses about the US. ’ Kim had some problems on her courses: ‘I was a little bit angry and I think they are ignoring me, they don’t care about the foreigner. Huseyin had a totally different problem, which focuses on Hungarians language proficiency: ‘The only problem is at train station in Pecs or Budapest, I don’t care, the workers don’t speak English. So I lost a lot of time and money there. ’ The result of the ERASMUS organizers’ questionnaire showed that the programmes were so colourful, various and interesting. The students emphasized the different presentations, the trips (to Budapest or Villany) and the sightseeing. Yet, they had a number of diverse and supplementary ideas.
The most common ones were: to organize more jaunts, to arrange integrating programmes with Hungarian students, to make movie nights in the dormitories, and make more suiting games with foreign and Hungarian students. 2. 4 Discussion The aim of this paper is to find out incoming ERASMUS students’ main motivations and goals in their study-abroad period. The six interviewees’ answers are harmonizing with the objectives of ERASMUS programme, albeit individually differences are observable too. Although in qualitative research it is hardly possible to make a comprehensive generalization, I think in this study we can rely on the results effectively.
The undergraduates have the same expectations towards the study-abroad programme. The achieving of higher language proficiency in different settings makes the foreign students more self-confident and led them learn new things which are not available in their native country and university. Besides, they want to travel in Europe, meet new people who different in the way of their cultural backgrounds, thoughts and lifestyles. It is typical that most of the foreign undergraduates acquire some information about the host country and some basic knowledge about its culture.
The most common method is to buy travel guides and books about the country or the host city. Many students improve their language skills before the travel to become more comprehensible. Language learning issues play a main role in their decision to study abroad. It seems that they have realized the chances given by the borderless Europe and the possibility to utilize them. Usually the undergraduates have practical reasons too, like language proficiency exams, or their degree. Intrinsic motivation also appears, for example in the case of Yoshi who said that he was as early interested in English as ‘at the Junior High School’.
On the other side Wiebke is motivated by her boyfriend, she claimed that ‘he speaks German but I learn Hungarian because I don’t want to him to learn German because I don’t speak Hungarian’. Some foreign students also have specific aims in the study-abroad period. Some of them are already working to practice their theoretical knowledge, like Wiebke who works as a cultural manager. Yoshi and Magdalena will finish their studies here by preparing a thesis. For Kim and Spencer, the stay is essential in terms of their language learning.
Kim also stated that she is also ‘making friends’, which could be useful relationships in her future. The study-abroad period is taken as a stepping-stone, because many ERASMUS students want to use the stay as a positive experience. Spencer thinks that ‘the experiences with employers’ give a good-quality recommendatory letter for his future profession in the United States or in Europe too. Yoshi said that his mind is opened, because it is ‘hard to understand some Japanese culture, because people are close-minded’, but in Hungary he experienced other perspectives and cultures which he will use in his life.
Kim pointed out that ‘studying in Hungary will help [her] a lot to find a job at home’. ‘I will tell a lot of things to my parents and friends about the different cultures and different people’, said Huseyin. This means that Hungarian culture has a great impression on foreign students. This can be influence their future life and help to make a better judgement on Hungary. Besides, Magdalena wants to exploit her experiences in her following employments: ‘Well I learn the language all the time, use it everyday. And it is a good point in my CV that I have learnt in Hungary or somewhere else’.
The students are absolutely satisfied with the ERASMUS programme due to the work of the organizers and mentors. The staff exploited their opportunities and facilities in the greatest possibility. With their effort the ERASMUS students got everything that they need to spend their time as effectively as they want. In general, the students claimed that the teaching methods and the lecturer’s preparedness are at a high-level, and the technological background of the university is up-to-date. Only a few individual problems had arisen among the interviewees.
The most common ones are integrating difficulties with Hungarians, language problems, and problems with some courses. Overall the ERASMUS programme achieves its goals among the undergraduates, according to the responses. In Pecs the foreign students are satisfied with the possibilities and the level of organization. Although, Szentpali Ujlaki (2007) argued that one academic year would be the ideal length of the stay, one semester is enough to improve the students’ language skills, self-reliance, and cultural awareness towards the host country and their native country.
Conclusion My thesis dealt with the expectations and aims of foreign language learners in a study-abroad context. The ERASMUS programme gives them the opportunity to live in a foreign country and study in a foreign university to gain higher language competence, cultural knowledge and better future possibilities. The goals of ERAMSUS programme, under the framework of Life-Long Learning Programme 2007-2013, are successfully encounter with the expectations and purposes of the undergraduates.
The expanding data set show the growing tendency of participation in the programme, which helps to utilize the opportunities more effectively. It is clearly discernible that students who decide to join a study-abroad programme are curious about other cultures, learning methods and they would like to acquire their second language better than their companions. The major aims of the interviewees are language learning, travelling, meeting with different people, and getting familiarize with other cultures. Some undergraduates have personal motives too, such as family issues or professional expectations.
The interviewees claimed that their language learning process is much more effectual in a study-abroad context than in classroom environment. The coordination of a borderless educational programme is a huge mission but the leaders of ERASMUS keep the links beside each other, so the programme improves towards its main aim which is the presence of a unified higher educational system in Europe. However, the ERASMUS programme do not achieved this goal yet, with further examination the organizers will be able to rethink and correct the insufficiencies.
The positive and negative answers of the interviewees provide further questions for researching and analysing the advantages and disadvantages of the ERASMUS programme in Pecs. Two major problems were mentioned by the undergraduates: (a) the apathy of Hungarian people towards the foreigners and (b) the lack of precise and fully identical curriculum among the universities. The first one can be avoided by the popularization of the programmes with the foreign students among their Hungarian counterparts and with better propaganda for the integration.
The second one is mainly a theoretical problem, because this issue can be only solved by the ERASMUS organizers and the local university leaders. Bigger and intensive research and examination may solve these problems with the help of the students who have the bitter experience of the lack of homogenous policies. The resolutions can be the unified curriculums in every participating universities and more encouraged students from the host institutions, who looks after the foreign undergraduates. My research could be continued in a study-abroad context where further data can e gained either with a qualitative or a quantitative method. My point of view could be a starting point with which other ERASMUS students’ ideas and feelings can be compared to make comprehensive, detailed and explicit report on the ERASMUS programme. Stefan Wolff, a political scientist, has said the following: ‘Give it 15, 20 or 25 years, and Europe will be run by leaders with a completely different socialization from those of today’, referring to the foreign students as ‘Erasmus generation’ (Bennhold, 2005). References Bennhold, K. (April, 26, 2005). Quietly sprouting: A European identity.
Retrieved from http://www. nytimes. com Chirkov, V. I. , Guzman, de J. , Playford, K. , & Safar, S. (2008). Further examining the role motivation to study abroad plays in the adaptation of international students in Canada. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 32, 427-440. Coleman, J. (1996). A comparative survey of the proficiency and progress of language learners in British universities. In R. Grotjahn (Ed. ), Der C-Test. Theoretische Grundlagen und prakische Anwendungen (pp. 367-399). Bochum, Brockmeyer. Dornyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dornyei, Z. , Csizer, K. , & Nemeth, N. (2006). Motivation, language attitudes and globalisation: A Hungarian perspective (pp. 142-149). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd. Ellis, R. (1997). Second language acquisition (pp. 73-78). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ERASMUS programme (2010). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/ European Commission – Education and Training. The ERASMUS programme (2009). Retrieved from http://ec. europa. eu/education/lifelong-learning-programme/doc80_en. htm Murphy-Lejeune, E. (2002). Student mobility and narrative in Europe.
London: Routledge. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications Ltd. Szentpali Ujlaki, E. (2007). Study-abroad motivation – preliminary results of a pilot project. Doctoral Programme in Applied Linguistics, University of Pecs, Hunagry. Tempus Kozalapitvany. Kiutazo Erasmus hallgatok intezmenyenkent 1998-2008 [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www. tpf. hu/document. php? doc_name=LLP/Erasmus/Statisztikak/kiutazo_hallgatok_intezmenyenkent. pdf Appendix A Interview Questions for Foreign Students Introductory questions: • Where are you from? What do you learn at the University of Pecs? Research questions: • Why did you decide to join the ERASMUS programme? • Did you make any preparation for your study-abroad period? • Why do you learn a foreign language? • Do you have any special aim or aims you would like to attain in this semester? • What do you think? Will this experience benefit for you in the future? • How do you want to exploit your experiences? • Are you satisfied with the study-abroad programme? Ending questions: • Why did you choose Pecs? • Do you enjoy your time in Pecs? • Would you like to come back in the future?
Appendix B Feedback – ERASMUS programmes 1. Why did You choose the University of Pecs, Hungary for pursuing your studies? 2. How would You evaluate your classes here (please underline the faculty, where You attended the courses: Faculty of Business and Economics, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law, Medical School, Music and Visual Arts, Sciences, Engineering) 3. What do You think about the programmes we organised? How would You evaluate them? Which one was your favourite? 4. Advice for the ERASMUS programme organisers: 5. What did You miss from the ERASMUS programmes? . What do You think about the Hungarian people? 7. Would You recommend your friends the University of Pecs at home? Thanks a lot for letting us get to know you! We wish You the best of luck! ERASMUS programme organizers Appendix C Interviews with Foreign Students Spencer A: Where are you from? S: New York State, from a little town called Saranac Lake, which is in the mountains. It is a very beautiful part of the US. A: And what do you study at the University of Pecs? S: What am I study? A: Yes. S: Communication. I’m actually taking psychological courses as well.
A: Why did you decide to join the ERASMUS programme? S: Ahm. I was in Europe five years ago, I was in Italy. I loved Italy and I wanted to be in Europe again. And I wanted to stay here longer and I wanted to really know more part of Europe, meet with international students, study with international students and learn new things, try new things, and I think ERASMUS is a great chance to, I mean most ERASMUS students come from within Europe, or from Asia, like Chine, India or whatever. A: There are a lot of students from Africa too. S: Really? A: Yes, but they are at the medical faculty.
S: So it’s something, so for me it is completely different here, being in a place a lot different from home. A: Did you make any preparation for the stay? So I mean learn the culture, or part of the culture, or… S: Yeah, well not much. I mean I knew that I want to come here and discover on my own. I knew a little bit of history, a little bit of ahm, a very very little of the culture… I knew goulash and that was all. A: Everybody knows goulash. S: So that’s all, you know, it’s not much but I wanted to come here and I was really keen, and I don’t want to read out a book before it. I wanted to learn it from my own.
A: And why did you choose Pecs? S: The honest answer is that I wanted to go to the Budapest programme, but it was full, but I wanted to come Hungary because it’s a little bit strange, a little bit not so westernized, not so like… I have a funny feeling that there are big differences compare to Europe. It has got a very strange language and a lot of Americans lived in other Western-Europe cities and Pecs is so small that there is not a lot of Americans and I really don’t wanted to be with Americans, so the study and stay in Pecs is good for me. A: Do you have any special aims you would like to attain in this semester?
For example a thesis maybe… S: Well not really. I want to see more of Hungary, I want to learn more the language, and I want to try everything, so I want to stay for the second semester. A: So it will be useful for you in the future maybe. S: Yes, sure! I mean the language probably not, but everything else absolutely. The experiences with employers, you know, like businesses in the US when they say ‘oh yeah you spent a year in this country’. A: You know the situation in Europe, mostly in here. S: Yes. You know it’s very attractive and beneficial for me to have this experience.
A: It will be good for you in your future work. S: Absolutely. Even in my daily life, maybe I will be done something much better than at home. There are some things that I like do, there are habits and different things that I want to take back and hold on. My profession probably will be to come back Europe and travel to different cities or something like this. A: I see. Are you satisfied with the study-abroad programme? S: Yeah. A: I know there are a lot of programmes. S: Yes, the programmes and the opportunities for us are so fantastic. I feel like the Erasmus programme is a little bit isolated.
A: Because you are mostly spend your time together. S: We are living together in the same dormitory; so many ERASMUS students said ‘I don’t know any Hungarians’ and this is not good. But I came here actually to meet people from the culture and a lot of people. I feel like the programme is so… the ERASMUS programme here is a sort of… so we are not integrated, we not really integrated with Hungarian students very well. The ERASMUS students are not so active to meet with Hungarian people so we live in a bubble. We are living like a little European bubble in the middle of Hungary. That’s my only concern with the programme.
The movie nights, the country presentations, the trips are great, they are all fantastic. But some people live the same life like at home here. A: Maybe that’s the problem with some Hungarians too. Because I think some of them are really cold and close-minded. Maybe that’s the reason. But you enjoy Pecs, aren’t you? S: Oh, I love Pecs. I’m a sort of big city kid, I love Budapest as a big city, I loved being there. I didn’t really like Pecs at first but now I really like it A: For me Pecs is a big city, really big. S: Some of my Hungarian friends said we are living in one of the biggest cities but for me it’s a small city.
I’m from… I live in a city with sixty thousand people at home and here there are a hundred thousand people. I’m not at home very often and Budapest is the perfect size for me. I can see a lot of new things every day so it’s not too much but okay. But in Pecs I feel like home, I feel comfortable here. A: So maybe you will come back in the future. S: Yeah, it’s possible. Hopefully I’m stay here until June or July. If not maybe I will come back to teach English or something like this. A: In private schools perhaps. S: That’s right. I’d like to come back. A: Okay. Thank you very much! S: Okay.
Yoshi A: Where are you from? Y: I’m from Japan. It’s northern part of Japan, 300 km away from Tokio. My hometown is very small, 8 000 thousand people live in but there is a bigger city, one million people live in, and it is one hour from my hometown. And I went high school there, and now I’m going to Akita International University, which is again 200 km away from my hometown. A: What do you study at the University of Pecs? Y: I took many courses from USA history and also colonial history and some media courses, some political courses and so on. A: And did you make any preparation for the stay?
I mean you have learnt something about the Hungarian culture, history or something like this. Y: Ahm, I bought some books about Hungary, but I didn’t really check it, but cooking or some pictures. But my girlfriend is from Serbia, but so she could tell me some things before I came here. A: Why did you choose Pecs? Because of your girlfriend? Y: Ahm, yes. She was an exchange student from the Faculty of Adult Education and she spent here (in Japan) the last year. And then I supposed to study abroad. It was compulsory in my university for two semesters. So I choose here and I got accepted, so I came here.
A: Why do you study English? Y: Because I was interested in English at the Junior High School. And then I went to High School which was focusing on English, so there are more courses in English compare to other high school. Then I chose Akita International University where the Japanese learn in English, not learn English, but learn something in English. A: Like business studies. Y: Business major, regional study majors. A: Do you have any special aim or aims you would like to attain in this semester? I mean write a thesis or get a language certificate? Y: In this semester… A: Or maybe in the next.
Y: First of all I will search for a job. And then maybe in the spring semester I will make some seminar courses or write a short thesis. A: What kind of job? Y: Job. I would like to find jobs in Japan but I’m not really decided it yet. But I’m not very good in communication so I’m not interested in that sector, that’s sure. I’m interested more in finances, governmental organizations, etc. A: How do you want to exploit your experiences? Y: I met people from, for example my roommate is Italian, and my ex-roommate was Polish. So it’s very interesting for me to meet people from oreign countries and to know about there culture and lifestyle, so I can talk about it. And also I met one… How to say.. A people who believe in… ahh a Jew. Who is living in Hungary and believe really in that religion. So it is very interesting to know other people and culture. Those things open up my eyes like… To live in Japan is hard to understand some Japanese culture, because people are close-minded, but when you come there and start realizing like there is much more different stuff in Japan compared to other cultures. And I think that was really good and good experiences in Hungary.
A: Are you satisfied with the study-abroad programme? Y: Mhm. Half. A: Why? Y: Because things what I can study, although my major is regional study, I study about Central-European regions and some other European regions trough the courses and also country presentations. That was a good point, but like a kind of disappoint, not disappointed but thing was I didn’t choose some courses about the US. But I know that before coming. A: And do you like Pecs? Y: Yes! A: Do you enjoy the time here? Y: It is a nice city. Not too big like Tokyo, which is one the biggest cities.
And Budapest is also too big for me. So I really satisfied. A: So it means you would like to come back maybe. Y: Yes! And I also would like to visit some other places here, like… A: Balaton? Y: Yes, and vineyards and the northern parts. A: The northern parts are really beautiful. Y: And Tokaj. Yes. A: Yes that’s it. So that’s all. Thank you. Y: Thanks. Huseyin A: Where are you from? H: I’m from Turkey. Torokorszagbo jotem. My city is near to the Greek border. A: Okay. What do you study at the University of Pecs? H: I’m studying Russian language and literature and that’s all.
Oh but I’m studying here international economics and politics and American culture and Hungarian culture. Egy kicit beszelek magyaru. A: Great! So you speak a little bit Hungarian, so maybe you did some preparation for the stay. H: Yes. I had a Hungarian class in Kaposvar and we not just studied Hungarian language but also Hungarian stories, culture and music or something like that. And really liked csardass and we tried to perform it and I know the song ‘viragom viragom, minden madar tarsat keres’. It’s nice, I liked it. And we visited a typical Hungarian village and tried to do some Hungarian things.
We performed csardass and ate Hungarian food. And about history, you know I’m from Turkey and we have a very good relation with Hungary. A: Yes of course, an old one. H: Yeah, and there is a Turkish-Hungarian friendship, so I liked it. A: And do you have any special aim or aims you would like to attain in this semester? A language certificate maybe or something like that. H: Sorry? A: So what are your aims? H: Ahh! Last year in Turkey there were a lot of Russian tourists and if a want to earn money I have to learn Russian and I also speak English and a little bit of Hungary so it’s good to me. A: Okay.
And why did you choose Pecs? H: Because of my friend. Because last semester she was here and she told me that is was great, it was unbelievable, magyaru hihetetlen, and there were Estonia and Bulgaria but Hungary was the best for me. So I said okay! And the university is the best for me. A: And what do you think? Will this experience benefit for you in the future? H: Yes. I think so. A: Maybe because of the Russian language. H: Yes because there are really qualified teachers, they are helpful and they teach me a lot of things. When I came here and couldn’t speak in Russian, but now I think I can!
I can introduce myself, I can make friends. A: How do you want to exploit your experiences? H: At home? I will tell a lot of things to my parents and friends about the different cultures and different people. For example ham. I didn’t eat ham but it’s very good. And I have a great time here. That’s why I will come in the next semester too. A: And are you satisfied with the ERASMUS programme? H: Yes. Because everybody really helpful for me. There are a lot of Russian and Polish people here who speak Russian very well, and they practiced with me a lot. And Spencer is from the USA, and he helped me a lot in English.
I also made a lot of friends here and I learn a lot of things here. A: So you enjoyed your time here. H: Yes, enjoyed. The only problem is at train station in Pecs or Budapest, I don’t care, the workers don’t speak English. So I lost a lot of time and money there. So this is my problem. A: Usually the workers there much older than us. H: Yes, but I just tell my situation and they answer me Hungarian and I can’t understand. So I don’t know… A: Yes. That’s true. But anyway, would you like to come back? H: In the second semester a try to come back. I will talk with Monika, she will help me so the 1st of February I will be in Europe again.
A: That’s great. Good luck. H: Thank you. A: Thank you too. Kim A: Where are you from? K: I’m from South-Korea. A: From a city or…? K: Yes, from a city. It’s called Daegu and it is like Pecs in Hungary. I think Pecs is bigger. A: And what do you study at the University of Pecs? K: I study English literature and I’m learning magyar a little bit too. A: Why did you decide to join the ERASMUS programme? K: I wanted to meet various people with various cultures. Actually I was thinking about being in England or other American country but Europe is fine for me so I have chosen Pecs.
And one of my friends already studied here in last semester so he recommended Pecs and Hungary. A: Why do you study English? K: In English? A: Why did you choose the English language? K: At my hometown or in the university? A: Both. K: At home I study English literature too, so I don’t have other opportunity here. You know in Korea English is a blooming language, popular very much. But actually I didn’t want to study English literature because it’s boring a little bit. But that is the only one at home. A: Do you have any special aim or aims you would like to attain in this sem